The Hard of Hearing meeting the other day fitted very well into the current mood of reminiscence!
Margaret Tirrell ( née Bird) came to talk to us about her life! It began in Onslow Village and then took her into the Diplomatic Service. This is what I remember:-
Her parents had a house in Hedgeway which then backed onto fields with cows that belonged to Wilderness Farm. As a child she was often sent up to the farmhouse for extra milk.
Her father worked in London and she used to walk some of the way down to the station with him. One day, on the way back, she heard the most appalling noise and asked someone in Old Palace Road what it meant. It turned out to be the first Air Raid warning, and the lady insisted that that she come inside with her until the All Clear, when she went home to find her mother beside herself with worry for her!
Her first school was at the bottom of Orchard Road and was run by a rather frightening lady called Miss Walpole. She remembers a reinforced room specially built at the back of the school to serve as an air raid shelter.
She feels she also lost a lot of her education in the air raid shelters at the County School. She was there when a German plane flew low over the school and machine gunned it. You can still see some of the bullet holes!
She left school at 16, and, wanting to travel, put the Foreign Office at the top of her list of preferences when she took the Civil Service exam. She was surprised to get in and looked forward to her first posting. She was disappointed to be sent to Paris as she had hoped to go further afield! Other postings followed and in the spring of 1956 she was sent to Budapest. There was an audible gasp from her audience at this! We all remembered the Hungarian uprising and the dreadful pictures in the newspapers of Russian tanks coming in to quell it. Margaret was called upon to do a lot of work with codes and ciphers and led a very restricted life for some time – sometimes they were all walled up in the embassy unable to leave.
When that was over, she went on other postings – always by “the approved routes”! This meant long journeys overland and by sea. There was little air travel at that time – no “hopping on a plane”!
Later she came home to Guildford and used to commute to her job in London via East Horsley where a clerical gentleman used to get on the train.
Reader, she married him. This was Canon Tirrell! They travelled to many places until his health failed, and now, after his death, she has travelled to many more on her own. This year she will be going to Moldova.
Several people remembered Margaret. I remember her playing the organ in Sunday School when it was run by Mr Rose and Mr Smallpeice. It was great to hear the group comparing great nieces and grandchildren and memories of Onslow Village back then! A real family time!
Oh, and we did manage to to give out a couple of cards of hearing aid batteries and save Joy going to the hospital!